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This post has been updated.

Two of the city’s newest council members will not be on hand to decide Mayor Bob Filner’s political future Friday.

Council members Myrtle Cole and Scott Sherman will not vote on a proposed settlement with Filner in a closed-door meeting, staffers confirmed Friday.

A staffer in Cole’s office said the recently elected councilwoman is attending the National Education Conference, a gathering organized by a national labor and civil rights advocacy group.

A spokeswoman for Sherman said he is traveling, too.

“He is out of the country on a family obligation, however he was apprised of what is in the proposed agreement by the city attorney sometime yesterday afternoon,” spokeswoman Diana Palacios said.

The absences won’t be enough to prevent the City Council from approving a deal, though it could still fall through. Only five votes are needed to approve the settlement. There are nine City Council members.

Cole and Sherman’s absences are both politically convenient — for very different reasons.

Multiple media outlets have reported that the city could pay thousands of dollars as part of the deal with Filner to secure his resignation.

Sherman, a Republican, would therefore avoid having his name attached to a vote that included taxpayer money as part of a hefty settlement, and could claim he didn’t waste taxpayer cash to oust a mayor who could have been recalled by voters.

Cole, who represents District 4, will avoid a vote that could upset some key constituents.

Key District 4 leaders, including Bishop George McKinney, have said Filner deserves due process.  Cole and fellow Councilwoman Marti Emerald were the last Council members to call on Filner to resign after more than a dozen women accused the mayor of unwanted sexual advances.

Sherman seemed torn on his vote in a Thursday morning radio appearance.

The councilman said he needed to see the deal before he could say how he’d vote, but that he couldn’t support an agreement that covered Filner’s future legal liabilities. He also acknowledged he was partial to the  recall effort.

“The people voted him in and so the people need to get him out, so I agree with that,” he told Chip Franklin and LaDona  Harvey on KOGO. “At the same time, once I look at this deal, I have to weigh what it’s going to cost us to have this guy in business and still at the city while the recall goes through, because I know full well there are businesses that aren’t bringing their tax dollars and their jobs to San Diego because the mayor is in office.”

Sherman never mentioned that he’d be out of town during the Friday meeting, which was informally announced late Wednesday.

In a Friday email to Voice of San Diego, Cole’s chief of staff said the councilwoman was scheduled to be briefed on the proposed settlement ahead of the closed-door meeting. Chief of Staff Jimmie Slack said Cole will return to San Diego on Sunday.

Cole’s only recent public statements about Filner’s alleged misbehavior came in her Aug. 9 statement calling on him to resign.

The absences follow a Thursday press conference where attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing former Filner staffer Irene McCormack in a sexual harassment suit, dubbed the settlement “callous and unholy” and said she had not signed off on it. Allred said she’d oppose any deal that covered Filner’s legal fees.

Update: Councilman Kevin Faulconer read this statement on Sherman’s behalf after the City Council voted 7-0 behind closed doors to approve a settlement with Filner:

“Yesterday I spoke with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and he advised me of the details regarding the proposed settlement agreement with Mayor Bob Filner.

I deeply regret that I was unable to attend the special closed session meeting or participate in today’s meeting. However, I truly believe that ratifying this agreement is what’s right for the citizens of San Diego. The settlement, as it was described to me, will effectively end this sad chapter in San Diego’s history in a cost-effective manner, allow the city to move forward, and will begin the process of restoring confidence in city government.

This was a very difficult decision for me to reach, but as always, I must do what I believe is right for the citizens of San Diego. That is why I am in support of this agreement.”

Andrew Keatts contributed to this report.

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Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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